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April 19, 2003

Best Laid Plans

jd2b links to "some uncharacteristically serious thoughts about pro-bono work" from the dubiously named Mr. Poon.* Mr. Poon is a 2L, looking forward to working with a firm in NYC this summer, and possibly again after he completes his J.D. Yet, he hopes he continue to do the kind of rewarding pro bono work he's doing now as a student. I asked how he plans to avoid becoming the kind of "a-hole" he's been doing battle with recently, and his response is worth a look. Basically he says that, as a lawyer, you've got to try your best to convince your clients to do the right thing, but if they insist on doing the wrong thing, you still have to do your best to represent them. I'm guessing this will be one of the harder things for me to learn or accept as a lawyer. My idea is that, by working in public interest law, I'll be able to avoid working for clients who would ask me to be an a-hole, but as this exchange between st and myself suggests, it's likely things won't be quite that simple. st writes:

I do know one thing, though - the market for full-time public interest legal positions at ANY level of salary and benefits is more cutthroat and competitive than the market for work in the private sector. I suppose the only good advice I can give is the most obvious - do really, really, really well in law school, and many of these issues will become, ahem, academic.

Yet another thing I so don't want to believe, but I'm sure st is correct. I suppose this is why I chose GW; if the public interest market is so competitive, I'll need every advantage I can get. GW's no trinity school, but, well, I'll take what I can get.

Meanwhile, now that the big "where do I go to school?" decision it's over, the anxiety topic du jour is: How much preparation do I need to do before school starts? So Sue Me and her commenters have some thoughts on the matter. Me, I'm still trying to get the house painted and electrified (do not, under any circumstances, ever attempt to rewire your house—trust me). I'll stress over how much I don't know about law school a little later, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Life, Law, Libido also has some good thoughts on the subject of paying for law school w/out working for firms. [Link via Left Coast Expat.]

I'm guessing from the Chevy Chase photo on Mr. Poon's main page that "Mr. Poon" is a movie reference? My cultural ignorance is very deep, w/regard to Chevy Chase; I admit he's one of those funny people I just don' "get." Not to say I never will. Much humor is an acquired taste. I seek enlightenment in all things.

Posted April 19, 2003 11:40 AM | law school

"My idea is that, by working in public interest law, I'll be able to avoid working for clients who would ask me to be an a-hole[.]"

Well, yes and no. You certainy won't have to being the, well, a-hole as much. On the other hand, your clients will probably not always be angels, either.* For example, one of my other clients this semester decided to violate a court order and then insist that she didn't in fact break the order, even though it was pretty obvious that she was lying.

This led to my getting to walk into a courtroom where, as my supervisor put it, "everyone was against [me]." It wasn't pretty.

The bottom line is that it won't always be easy, especially if I'm representing some corporation. If I have some poor criminal with a tough background to defend, I can at least convince myself that given the right surroundings and upbringing, this person I'm defending could have avoided their current situation.

I can't say the same of the corporation.

*Depending on exactly what type of PI work you're doing, of course.

You're correct to zero in on the Chevy Chase photo. In "Fletch," Chase plays a newspaper reporter who uses many aliases, including Ted Nugent and Igor Stravinsky. Others are simply made up.

In one scene, we see him as a new character, rambling about the secret service mishap that led to his nosebleeds.

When he finally pauses in his story, a secretary interrupts him with his coffee, and the line, "Sugar, Mr. Poon?"

--It's one of my favorite lines in the movie, and seemed like a fun title for a blog. The photo captures that moment when he gets his coffee.

Posted by: Mr. Poon at April 21, 2003 01:18 AM

I've given up on serious pre-law reading for now. So I picked up Brush With the Law. It's being serialized on the NY Lawyer site, but being able to cruise through the book is more fun. Gotta love guys who celebrate their total lack of ambition and motivation.

Posted by: sue at April 23, 2003 07:58 AM

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